Valentine’s Day is here which is the perfect time of year to get tested for STIs. To some, pairing STIs with Valentine’s Day may seem odd but I think they go hand in hand. For anyone who is single, on dating apps, in polyamorous or monogamous relationships, you should get tested and know your status. Our sexual health is an important part of our overall health and it’s time to eliminate the stigma surrounding it. Perhaps this conversation is long overdue as the CDC reported last year cases of the top three STIs; Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis are increasing and the CDC is afraid we are moving backwards. It’s apparent more comprehensive sexual education is necessary for people of all ages, especially when our president doesn’t know the difference between HPV (human papillomavirus) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and surely he’s not the only one.
You’ll notice people often use STI & STD interchangeably, but there is a difference. Sexually Transmitted Infections, like Chlamydia & Gonorrhea, start off as infections which are curable with antibiotics. However, left untreated they can turn into Sexually Transmitted Diseases like PDI (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) or even cervical cancer. Since many STIs don’t have obvious symptoms it’s important to get tested at least once a year if not more. This should be included with your yearly physical exam but too often the patient has to ask specifically for these tests instead of the doctor suggesting them, which is one of the many flaws in our healthcare system.
It’s natural to be fearful around getting tested. Having blood drawn can be stressful for some who are afraid of needles or cringe at the sight of blood. Then anxiety builds while you wait for your test results. That anxiety can start to increase if your mind starts to wonder, “OMG, what if the test comes back positive?” It’s okay, take a deep breath and still push forward with getting tested anyway. It could save your life and the lives of your partners.
I recently used STDCheck.com to get tested and had a rather pleasurable experience. I ordered the test panel I wanted online, then selected the lab location closest to me where my tests would be performed. I didn’t even have to make an appointment, I just stopped by during my lunch break to provide my blood and urine samples and the whole process was complete in about 20 minutes. The days of waiting weeks for your test results to be delivered via snail mailed are long gone. The site boasts results will be available within 1-2 days however my test results were delivered via email within 24 hours. My favorite thing about SDTCheck.com is they have physicians available to discuss results and they can also prescribe treatment options if any tests come back positive. This service is discrete, affordable and available to all, no insurance required.
For me, taking care of my sexual health is the highest expression of self-love. Sex is one of my favorite things to do but it’s even better when I know what’s happening with my body. Most people avoid the uncomfortable conversation about status and jump right to the sex, only thinking about possible consequences afterward. Believe me, I’ve been there. However, I think going in aware of what risks are present helps you make an informed choice on whether to engage with someone sexually or not. If you look at the statistics, people living with STIs & STDs is more common than we think. Yet those living with STIs still have fulfilling sex lives with available treatments, using protection & most importantly communicating with their partners.
Remember caring about your sexual health is the best kind of self-love so let’s celebrate sexual health this Valentine’s Day and all get tested.
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